Online Education Benefits: Professors See Huge Potential in Internet Courses


Sal Khan created his online teaching series, the Khan Academy, to be a resource to anyone searching for quality education. The Harvard educated Khan, began uploading videos ranging in topics from statistics to American history.

In an attempt to chart this phenomenon — known as massive open online courses —  The Chronicle, attempted to reach every professor who has taught a MOOC (massive open online class). The online questionnaire was sent to 184 professors in late February, and 103 of them responded.

Like the Khan Academy, which I have used for its quick video explanations to supplement in-class texts, various online teaching resources have sprouted. Probably the one that drew the most popularity were the classes taught by Stanford University professors. The free online courses drew thousands of students with the only stipulation being having access to the Internet. 

The trend doesn't look like it will stop anytime soon. Last year, Harvard University and  the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced edX.

"Online education is not an enemy of residential education," said Susan Hockfield, president of MIT about edX.

As a student concentrating on education policy, it seems that MOOCs are the wave of the future. The income gap in America has long been attributed to differences in education levels. People with higher educations typically earn more and are typically wealthier to begin with. The online courses make being taught college course information attainable for anyone, which, in turn, will increase the amount of educated people in the world. However, the one problem with MOOCs is that students "enrolled" in these courses do not take entrance exams and do not apply. In fact, it is rare that  they even meet their professors in-person.

According to the article, "most professors who responded to The Chronicle's survey said they believed that MOOCs would drive down the cost of college; 85 percent said the free courses would make traditional degrees at least marginally less expensive, and half of that group said it would lower the cost "significantly."

As far as awarding formal credit is concerned, most professors do not think their MOOCs are ready for prime time. Asked if students who succeed in their MOOCs deserve to get course credit from their home institutions, 72% said no.

However, it's worth noting that more than a quarter of the professors felt that their successful MOOC students do deserve credit. Those respondents include faculty members at Penn, Princeton, Duke, and Stanford. Most of them led courses that were oriented to math, science, and engineering."

It is obvious that MOOCs are the future of education. Students who want to learn a new subject or brush up on a skill are able to do just that. The question is, how can students enrolled in MOOC use its full potential?